There’s new Melanated Mound Marauder on the come up and his name is Josiah Gray.
With veteran leaders Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross still on the mend, Gray has become the stopper on the staff.
The Washington Nationals pitcher was a top prospect in the LA Dodgers organization and came to Washington in the blockbuster trade that sent Mad Max Scherzer and talented shortstop Trea Turner to the talent-laden Dodgers in 2021.
Nats fans saw the move as a clearinghouse. A shameless unloading of talent that occurs too often when small market clubs rise to baseball supremacy. Just two years removed from the first World Series title in franchise history, the Nats typically started cleaning shop, cutting star players and potentially high salary and preparing for another rebuild. However, the X-Factor in that trade was Gray. If he was ready to develop into an ace starter, then the Nationals would be patting themselves on the back for years to come.
Washington was picked by most analysts to finish at the bottom of the NL East with the Mets, Braves and Phillies all slugging it out for supremacy once again. 12 games into the season and the Nats are where everyone expected (5-7), but the shining light and hope for the future is the young Gray who completed his second straight quality start, going 5.1 innings and surrendering just one run and three hits while striking out eight in a 6-1 Washington Nationals win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.
The first step towards becoming a competitive club is beating the teams that your roster says you should beat. The Nationals did that on Tuesday, overpowering a Diamondbacks club that is expected to finish among baseball’s worst.
Gray is finding his zone and a comfortable home in the Nation’s capital. The Dodgers will surely wish they had held onto the 24-year-old rising star if he keeps elevating his stature at this pace. Young arms with command and confidence are hard to come by and Gray has both.
“When you see guys time and time again and you continue to get them out, it gives you that extra confidence my stuff is still playing,” Gray said. “They’re still having a difficult time in picking up my stuff. It definitely gives you confidence.”
The Nats have a long way to go and some more talent to acquire in order to compete with the top of the division, but the silver lining is the development of Gray, who after a rough first start against the Mets in which he surrendered four runs in four innings, settled down in his next start tossing 5 scoreless frames against the World Champion Braves.
Gray has a 2-1 record and a 3.14 ERA on the season. In his last 10.1 innings the New Rochelle, NY native has allowed just one earned run and he’s overpowered hitters, striking out 13. His out pitch has been his curveball, which is keeping hitters off balance nicely.
His dominance on the mound, in the absence of a veteran ace such as Max Scherzer, is a huge confidence builder for manager Dave Martinez and his fellow MLBro teammate Josh Bell, who plays first base.
“It’s really exciting to see him grow and I’m pumped to see what happens next for him,” said first Bell, who’s off to a scorching start of his own and seeking a huge bag on the free agent market after the season.
This future Black Ace is one of the rising pitching stars in MLB along with Cincinatti Reds fireballer Hunter Greene and Cleveland Guardians wonderkid Triston McKenzie.